V. I.   Lenin

Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.

July 17 (30)-August 10 (23), 1903


16. First Speech in the Discussion on the Agrarian Programme

I shall in the first place mention a detail that came up during the debate. Comrade Yegorov expressed regret that there was no report which might have considerably facilitated and directed our whole debate. Since it was I who was suggested as reporter, I shall, in a manner of speaking, have to defend myself for the absence of a report. And I shall say in my defence that I have a report: it is my reply to Comrade X,[See pp. 438-53 of this volume.—Ed.] which, in fact, replies to the most widespread of the objections and misunderstandings aroused by our agrarian programme, and has been distributed to all the Congress delegates. A report is no less a report for having been printed and distributed to the delegates instead of being delivered by word of mouth.

I shall now pass to the contents of the speeches by those who, unfortunately, have disregarded this particular re port of mine. Comrade Martynov, for example, failed even to take account of the earlier literature on our agrarian programme, when he spoke again and again about redressing a historical injustice, of a needless reversion to forty years back, of the destruction of the feudalism of the sixties, rather than that of today, and so on. In replying to these arguments, I shall have to repeat what I have said before. If we acted   s o l e l y   on the principle of “redressing a historical injustice,” we would be guiding ourselves by nothing but democratic phraseology. But we refer to the survivals   of serf-ownership which exist around us, to present-day realities, to what is today hampering and retarding the proletariat’s struggle for emancipation. We are accused of reverting to the hoary past. This accusation reveals only an ignorance of the most generally known facts regarding the activities of Social-Democrats in all countries. One of the aims they set themselves and work for everywhere is to complete what the bourgeoisie has left unfinished. That is what we are doing. And in order to do so, we have unavoidably to revert to the past; and that is what the Social-Democrats in every country are doing, always reverting to their 1789, or to their 1848. Similarly, the Russian Social-Democrats cannot but revert to their 1861, and must do so all the more energetically and frequently since our so-called peasant “Reform” has achieved so little in the way of democratic changes.

As to Comrade Gorin, he too is guilty of the common error of forgetting the serf bondage that actually exists. Comrade Gorin says that “hope of getting the cut-off lands perforce keeps the small peasant bound to an anti-proletarian ideology.” Actually, however, it is not “hope” that he will get the cut-off lands, but the present cut-off lands themselves that forcibly maintain serf bondage, and there is no way out of this bondage, out of these serf forms of land leasing, except by converting the pseudotenants into free owners.

Lastly, Comrade Yegorov asked the authors of the programme what the programme signified. Is the programme, he asked, a conclusion drawn from our basic conceptions of the economic evolution of Russia, a scientific anticipation of the possible and inevitable result of political changes (in which case Comrade Yegorov might agree with us)? Or is our programme a practical slogan for agitation? In that case we could not beat the record of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and the programme must be regarded as incorrect. I must say that I do not understand the distinction Comrade Yegorov draws. If our programme did not meet the first condition, it would be incorrect and we could not accept it. If, however, the programme is correct, it cannot but furnish a slogan of practical value for purposes of agitation. The contradiction between Comrade Yegorov’s two alternatives is   only a seeming one; it cannot exist in fact, because a correct theoretical decision guarantees enduring success in agitation. And it is for enduring success that we are working, not in the least disconcerted by temporary reverses.

Comrade Lieber likewise repeated objections long ago refuted; he was astonished at the “meagreness” of our programme and demanded “radical reforms” in the agrarian sphere as well. Comrade Lieber has forgotten the difference between the democratic and the socialist parts of the programme: what he has taken for “meagreness” is the absence of anything socialistic in the democratic programme. He has failed to notice that the socialist part of our agrarian programme is to be found elsewhere, namely in the section on the workers, which also applies to agriculture. Only Socialist-Revolutionaries, with their characteristic lack of principle, are capable of confusing, as they constantly do, democratic and socialistic demands. But the party of the proletariat is in duty bound to separate and distinguish between them in the strictest fashion.



  15. Report on the Party Rules | 17. Second Speech in the Discussion on the Agrarian Programme  

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